The righteous remnant is already waving its mighty stick. “Keep stores closed on Thanksgiving!” the remnant cries, “Let those poor people be with their families!” They rail against the opening of stores on the holiest of Thanksmases. They stand in staunch opposition to it and advertise their vehemence all over the social media, and then a mere hours later they are Instagramming the heck out of the Black Friday mayhem. Because forcing a man to work for double overtime on Thursday night is radically different from forcing a man to work on Black Friday at a regular hourly wage?
I don’t dedicate a whole lot of bandwidth to pondering whether or not we should open or close stores on certain days. What I do care a great deal about are fair wages, equal employment opportunities, and consumer protections. Which is why, having worked plenty of retail (shout-out to Ann Taylor, Paper Source, and a now-defunct gift shop to name a few), I’d like to speak specifically to the retailer’s experience through the holidays.
Here are some things to remember as we cultivate kindness toward our retail neighbor:
- You are a VIP customer. Just like everybody else. Although the retail associates are trained to make you believe otherwise, exercise a little common courtesy, especially as the holidays approach. If your cashmere sweater cannot be found at Gap North, and the associate offers to call Gap West to see if it’s in supply, this is a kind gesture, and exceedingly helpful since the retail associate probably knows the personnel at the other store. But if there are heaps of other customers waiting to be rung up, perhaps you can offer to let others go ahead of you. Or! Perhaps consider making the call yourself on your handy cordless calling device right there in your pocket!
- Bob Barker is dead. Now it’s your job to hand out hugs and prizes. Growing old is hard, y’all. Your sight goes, your memory goes, even your tastebuds start to fade. Let’s be kind to our elder customers who may need a hand with a door, who might not be able to carry all their parcels, who might look confused as to where they parked the Buick in the parking lot. Bob Barker is no longer there to hug little old ladies and make their days with his tanned, pristine persona. So be a Bob Barker to your elders at the mall, even if it’s not your paid job to do so, and maybe someday someone will be one to you.
- There are freeways and then there are shoulders to the road. Even if stores are not clearly marked with passing lanes and exit ramps, there are places where the taking of a selfie or the sending of a text message are only acceptable if you are an aboriginal from the Australian Bush country who has never been inside a Target before. Otherwise, you are likely causing a shopping cart traffic jam or just being a total retail schmuck. So pull your cart off the main artery and into the pet food aisle or a dressing room and complete your e-gram.
- Everyone gets a turn. I promise. If you stand in line without cutting anyone, eventually you will get to the front. But remember how many people were in front of you. All those folks? They may have had multiple returns/exchanges/coupon codes that expired with Poor Ol’ Lyndon B. Johnson. Exercise patience with the retail associates. They are probably fried and their throats are probably sore from speaking in a holiday happy octave and they are tired from standing, too. So be the change you want to see in the checkout at Macy’s. Do your mindfulness exercises or finally get around to following Ryan Reynolds on Twitter. Use your waiting time to your advantage rather than rolling your eyes and huffing like you are the only special snowflake who has ever had to linger too long in the queue.
And you? What are your Retail Absolutes?